RED ALERT: Theo Walcott (left) in action against Jamie Carragher
ARSENAL AT last showed some fighting spirit to come from two goals down to salvage a merited point in this 2-2 draw.
Goals by Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud kept Arsenal’s hopes of Champions League football alive. But only just.
Liverpool will feel gutted to have blown their advantage. And even when they were pegged back the visitors looked capable of taking all three points.
The Gunners have won just 10 league matches so far this term, their fewest ever at this stage of a season since Arsene Wenger took charge in September 1996. And at times they must have wondered if they could add to that tally.
Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen was available to face the Merseyside club after overcoming an ankle injury. Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla also returned to the starting line-up after dropping to the bench for the FA Cup win at Brighton.
Fit-again trio Jose Reina, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson returned for Liverpool.
Liverpool's players headed south for this game with some scathing criticism from manager Brendan Rodgers ringing in their ears after Sunday's FA Cup upset at Oldham.
Pre-match this promised to be a cracker and the first 45 minutes set the tone. It had an ebb and flow about it that kept the winter chill at bay.
Liverpool took the lead on five minutes after another comedy of errors by the Arsenal defence. Bacary Sagna slipped which prevented him from cutting out a Stewart Downing cross. The ball found its way to Daniel Sturridge in the the home box and he was only denied by a fine save by Wojciech Szczesny; only for the predatory Luis Suarez to tuck the ball home via a deflection off the hapless Sagna.
Arsenal attempted to hit back just seconds later but the marauding Walcott had his effort saved brilliantly by Pepe Reina.
In basketball fashion, it was then the visitors that threatened. Suarez hit a cross of beauty to the feet of Sturridge who fired wide.
Thereafter Walcott was superbly denied by Reina again as Arsenal peppered the Liverpool defence. Heaven knows how Reds skipper Steve Gerrard managed to clear off his line as the home side pressed for a deserved equaliser.
But in keeping with the match, Liverpool nearly scored themselves. Centre-half Daniel Agger saw his header cleared off the line by Lukas Podolski of all people.
Just before the half-time whistle, Jordan Henderson nearly put the visitors 2-0, his deft chip just sailing over the Arsenal crossbar.
Walcott had the chance to equalise with a header just after the break and the Gunners look to fire at last.
On the hour, Henderson - after more calamitous defending by Andre Santos, Per Mertersacker and Aaron Ramsey - put Liverpool 2-0 up and seemingly out of sight.
However, Henderson’s strike was to spark, at last, an Arsenal fightback.
Giroud notched the lifeline goal on 64 minutes after good work by Wilshere.
In the 67th minute Walcott notched a sublime second for the hosts after good work by Cazorla and Giroud. It was the England man’s 11th Premier League goal of the campaign.
It was nip and tuck after that with both sides having chances to claim all the spoils.
In the end 2-2 was just about right.